Wyeth employees get fired under guise of ‘team building exercises’
According to the labor federation Drug/Food and Allied Workers Federation (DFA-KMU), Wyeth Philippines managemen6 launched a “team-building exercise” for workers in their Warehouse division when they were instead served redundancy notices.
By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – Workers of pharmaceutical giant Wyeth Philippines were shocked to find themselves jobless after management called them for a “team-building exercise,” September 30.
According to the labor federation Drug/Food and Allied Workers Federation (DFA-KMU), Wyeth Philippines managemen6 launched a “team-building exercise” for workers in their Warehouse division when they were instead served redundancy notices. The redundancy notice stated that they would be terminated on October 31, and that they would be allowed to come in to work starting October 1.
Their union, Wyeth Phils. Progressive Workers Union (WPPWU-DFA-KMU), was not informed of such an activity. WPPWU also asserted that management never discussed any team-building exercise, or any lay-offs during their meetings.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has called this an “attack against a union that has for the past 62 years fought for wages, jobs, and workers’ rights.” The labor center pointed out that the redundancy notices came at a time when WPPWU members and officers are being targeted by the government’s National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Labor alliance Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA) also found the sudden issuance of a redundancy notice suspicious. In an interview with Bulatlat, ALMAPILA coordinator Red Clado stated that “the combination of harassment and termination is a sure sign that Wyeth Philippines is collaborating with the state in their mutual interest of destroying the workers’ union.”
Since December 2020, officials from NTF-ELCAC have visited the homes of WPPWU members and officers in an attempt to coerce them to disaffiliate from DFA-KMU. NTF-ELCAC also threatened to file charges against union officers for allegedly “violating the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” should they fail to disaffiliate.
Last September 15, the Philippine Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade released a statement claiming that Aichi Forge Philippines Employees Union 1 (AFPEU-OLALIA-KMU) and WPPWU-DFA-KMU both disaffiliated from their respective federations. KMU countered this allegation by stating that no disaffiliation notice was ever given, and questioned why the military was so concerned with union matters.
KMU has since raised the issue of NTF-ELCAC’s harassment of Wyeth workers to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also held a meeting with Wyeth Philippines workers before urging Congress to hold an investigation on NTF-ELCAC’s involvement in cases of harassment against Wyeth workers.
Wyeth workers are not alone in experiencing threats, harassment, and intimidation. ALMAPILA noted that aside from Wyeth, workers from Nexperia Philippines, Inc., Clarmil Manufacturing Corporation, Sun Logistics Technology, Inc., Daiwa Seiko Philippines Corporation, and Fuji Electric Philippines reported cases of harassment from police and military operatives in the past nine months.
These include unsolicited “visits” to their homes, threats disguised as deliveries, forced disaffiliation from KMU under threat of arrest, and in the case of Fuji Electric union President Dandy Miguel, murder.
In the case of workers from Clarmil Manufacturing, 12 workers and union members were suddenly terminated following the signing of their Collective Bargaining Agreement. Union officers then received text messages and visits from unidentified persons, attempting to dissuade them from engaging in union activity.
“It is a big question why the police, military, and large business owners are so keen in stamping out workers’ rights to unionize and organize,” said Clado, “when these workers are only interested in fighting for just wages, regularization, and their rights and benefits.”
ALMAPILA pointed out that despite the constant attacks and threats against unionists, the government, and the Department of Labor and Employment in particular, has “consistently failed to provide” subsidies and relief to workers. Clado noted that there are 4.5 million unemployed workers nationwide, far from DOLE’s goal of providing aid for 400,000 workers, “and even then DOLE cannot provide sufficient aid.”
The group urged Wyeth workers to “stand firm and continue fighting for our rights” despite the recent notice of termination. (RVO)